This week saw more spectacular racing as Kent AC gathered once more at Beckenham place for this year’s most consistently staged cross country fixture.
As a result of a last minute oversubscribed B race, Mandy Nio and and Jo Mott set off in a race of their own. Agreeing beforehand that they would both just ‘jog around’, the racing spirit got the better of them. Closely duelling throughout, Mandy proved too strong in the later stages and pulled away to a triumphant victory in 22.23 with Jo following in 22.44
Shortly after that race started the remainder of the B race set off. Pete Lighting set the early pace as the field jostled for position. Pete proceeded to tear away down the first major downhill before catching up with the girls ahead would prove his undoing. The chasing pack caught up with the duelling duo on the most technical part of the course. As the boys chivalrously lined up behind, Ed Mathews saw his opportunity and struck, unleashing a burst of speed down the steep descent that propelled him from last to first with room to spare, catching the others unaware. Leading the chase, Jonathan Tipper eventually reeled in Ed at the bottom of the climb at the end of the first lap and set out to try and gap the remainder of the field.
However try as he might, he could not shake the close attendance of Jonathan Beatty who having patiently bided his time, sprang into action on the last climb to pull away for victory in 15:34 with Jonathan Tipper a full 4 seconds slower up the last hill in 15:38.
Pete Lighting, paying for his early exertions, was hunted down by Callum Fraser. He used everything at his disposal to evade capture including pulling back and releasing branches in order to knock the big man off his balance. It proved a successful strategy as Pete came home 3rd in 15:47 with Callum finishing in 15:57. Ed Mathews followed home in 16:25 after his early and impressive bid for victory that sent a clear statement that we are not to put him in the C race again.
Meanwhile another battle was taking place behind as James Bowler battled his way around the course. The much talked about showdown with Sarah Hanley had sadly failed to materialise. However, Sarah attended as a spectator and rumour has it she was watching James closely with a stopwatch and scribbling furiously into a notebook. It seems only a matter of time now before this much anticipated fixture will become a reality.
The A race saw a stellar field which included a number of wild cards with a strong cross country pedigree. However, there was only one joker in the pack as Dan Pettitt toed the line in a reindeer mask. His performance however was no joke as Kent AC’s resident chat show host led from gun to tape to extend his unbeaten streak and cement his status as the man to beat, coming home in an impressive 14:54.
Behind Dan, the rest of the pack shuffled position. After some fascinating exchanges and a closely fought race, Dame Dibaba, the man who would win the national XC every year if it were 500m long came home closely behind Dan, finishing in 15.01.
Having been running at the back of the field for much of the race, George Russell showed cool head as he moved gradually through the field for 3rd in 15:04 with Neil Phillips, having at stages led the chase to Dan, showing excellent resilience to finish 4th in 15:07. Rowan Crichton, the winner of this event 2 weeks ago was last man home in a still impressive 15:15 showcasing the depth on the field this week.
The question now is who, if anyone, is going to be able to take Dan Pettitt’s crown?